Innovative Dental Pods support COVID-safe dental services in Tayside

Specialist dental pods installed at Dundee Dental Hospital are benefiting Tayside patients as they support the COVID-safe delivery of more complex dental procedures. 

NHS Tayside has invested in twenty bespoke self-contained dental pods which are being installed in the Dental Hospital with 14 already in place and being used to deliver dental care to patients.

These specialist pods are an important part of the reintroduction of more complex dental procedures at the hospital which had to be reduced due to COVID-19. In addition, these pods will support dental students and their practical patient-facing clinical activity which is an integral part of their dental degree.

For some procedures, such as certain fillings, crowns and the more complex extractions, a dentist has to use a high-speed drill and this causes fine water droplets to be released into the air. These are called aerosol generating procedures (AGPs). In these circumstances the dental room or area has to be left for an hour to allow these airborne water droplets to settle and then the area is thoroughly cleaned.  This lengthy downtown has had a significant impact of the number of patients that can be safely seen by the dental teams at the hospital.

Consultant with NHS Tayside and Honorary Senior Lecturer in Restorative Dentistry, Dr Brian Stevenson, said, “Dental treatment across Scotland and the UK has been severely impacted by COVID-19, particularly in relation  to the number of AGPs, which have been severely limited. 

“The innovative self-contained pods have their own individual air filtering systems which means that AGPs can be undertaken safely in these carefully controlled environments. Each pod is fitted with an airlock door meaning multiple areas of one clinic can be isolated allowing AGPs to be completed safely. 

“Whilst the pods are primarily used for patients who require more complex dental procedures if they are not being used then dental staff can also treat patients assessed for routine (non AGP) work in them.

“The pods will allow us to see more patients for specialist level care and will allow dental students at Dundee Dental Hospital and School to continue their clinical studies.”

Each pod is designed with flame retardant PVC walls and ceiling and has an airlock door which converts the dental unit into a negative pressure isolation room. Having control over the air filtering system means that the air within the pod can be completely changed. This is an important and vital part of the design as the downtime between seeing the next patient decreases significantly enabling more patients to be seen.

The dental pods have been installed in various departments across the Dental Hospital including in the Paediatric Dentistry, Orthodontic, Restorative Dentistry and Oral Surgery (including dental A&E) departments.